NATPE will head to New Orleans for 2003 and 2004 after all, organization President and CEO Bruce Johansen said last week, but the real story is how many exhibitors won't be in Las Vegas just about a month and a half from now.
NATPE executives say they currently have more than 500 exhibitors signed up for the Jan. 22-25 show; last year, there were 860 at the show. In a grim statistical snapshot of the industry NATPE serves, more than 200 companies that exhibited at the 2001 show are now out of business.
Preregistration is running 40% behind last year at this time; that show ultimately drew 20,348.
Nonetheless, Johansen insisted at a press conference last week, "NATPE is the not going to die."
But "it's going to change," he quickly added, as he announced that an industry task force had been created to help decide the 39-year-old organization's future; it will issue a report in April.
The panel is headed by Tony Vinciquerra, the new Fox Television Network president (and former Hearst-Argyle COO), who is also expected to be elected NATPE's 2002 chairman. The other members are Lifetime President Carole Black, AOL Time Warner sales executive Julie Kantrowitz and Studios USA domestic television chief Steve Rosenberg. (For more on Vinciquerra's move to Fox, see page 13.)
Johansen confirmed that NATPE is talking with other trade organizations, including marketing group PROMAX and the Syndicated Network Television Association, a domestic-syndication advertising group, about possible links. SNTA is considering staging a spring conference in New York for advertisers.
The NATPE show began unraveling earlier this year when major syndicators led by Warner Bros. announced that they were not doing enough business at the show to justify large booths on the NATPE exhibit floor. Instead, they would work from hotel suites.
Johansen said NATPE had erred by notifying New Orleans hotels that it was pulling out of the 2003 and 2004 shows there. NATPE will keep its appointment in the Big Easy, in part because skipping out would invite litigation, he said.
Syndicators don't like having the show in New Orleans because it increases lodging and transportation expenses: When the shows are in Las Vegas, syndicators can fly talent and executives to and from Los Angeles the same day. "There are going to be some people who are not happy about that decision," Johansen said.